Growth has limits

Sue Dyer (Letters, August 24) doesn’t like the ACT Property Council’s wish for we Canberrans to pay local businesses $5000 for each new Canberra resident arriving from Sydney, Melbourne, etc. Neither do I. She thinks there are better ways for the council to attract newcomers, by ensuring Canberra is a great place to live.

What Sue misses here is the council’s motivation. Its website frequently lauds population growth, which increases demand for houses and business premises, the beneficiaries being the property industry. We see the negative impacts of many years of growth in Sydney and Melbourne. Do we want that for Canberra? One problem is that growth temporarily creates artificially large commercial groups that are dependent on that growth continuing. One example is our construction industry which is attuned to pre COVID-19 annual national population increase of around 400,000.

If the impossibility of never ending growth is not publicly recognised our cities will become crowded, overpopulated centres struggling to survive economically, socially, and environmentally; not “great places to live”.

For Canberra as an inland city, its future growth (and that of other large Murray Darling Basin towns) must be measured against the availability of MDB water during droughts.

Vincent Patulny Canberra Times 2 September 2020

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